I know I just wrote a post about being a joyful vegan, and while I really, really do plan to be as joyful as possible, when I hear that a dairy operation (it’s not a FARM, that’s for sure) in northern Minnesota caused local residents to evacuate their homes over the weekend due to unhealthy levels of hydrogen sulfide, I don’t feel very joyful. In fact, I feel pretty angry. When will the people who operate these dairies finally own up to how incredibly awful these facilities are – for the animals involved, the people who live nearby, the workers, and the environment?? This isn’t rocket science – it’s just common sense (trust me, I cannot do rocket science).
So, as I said, the people living near this facility actually had to EVACUATE their homes to avoid the negative health effects of breathing in the toxins, such as irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat, headaches, difficulty breathing, and if high enough, neurological and brain damage. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Brain damage! Especially in children! Apparently the residents have been complaining for years, and nothing gets done about it. Before I get in to talking about how the animals must be suffering, let’s talk about workers for a minute:
“According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), farm workers are risking their lives every time they enter a manure pit. The…atmosphere which can develop in a manure pit has claimed many lives.” The manure pits are so dangerous because of the gases produced by the animals during digestion:
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Carbon dioxide
The accumulation of these gases within the confined space of the manure pit can produce an oxygen-deficient, toxic, and/or explosive environment. Doesn’t that sound like a nice place to work? Check it out:
I’ll never complain about my desk job again. Ever.
Worker deaths are real: in August of 1992, a 43-year-old dairy farm owner and his 23-year-old son died from asphyxiation after entering a manure pit; in July of 2007, 4 workers at a Virginia farm died of asphyxiation when they entered a manure pit. There is case after case after case just like that – sad, unnecessary, preventable deaths.
So, now let’s imagine what the animals are going through. Stuck indoors all day, every day, living in close quarters, standing in their own manure, unable to eat a natural diet of grass, these poor cows are impregnated year after year, and deprived of raising their babies so that humans can steal their milk. Just imagine how horrible that must be. Now imagine being pumped up with growth hormones so that you produce 10 times as much milk as you should, being milked for hours a day for several years, and then being sent to slaughter when you’re no longer “productive”.
How does any of this sound like a good thing? These money hungry corporate farms are destroying the land, polluting our water, forcing people out of their homes, creating unsafe workplaces, and torturing animals. And it’s all for profit. How these people can look at themselves in the mirror at night is beyond me. Maybe when you make all that money you can afford a special mirror that convinces you you’re not a terrible person no matter how many people and animals you hurt. I really can’t imagine how you could live with yourself otherwise.
Ok. Now it’s time to go back to being joyful. I swear.
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